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Engaged and Energized

While engagement is often associated with the process leading up to marriage, to be engaged refers to an active, engrossed and involved state. I’ve never thought of prayer in the context of being engaged. However, when the apostle Paul found an isolated spot to pray, Mark 1:35, his concentration was fixated on God. Paul wasn’t just hoping and wishing for an answer to prayer, he expected God to perform a miracle.

We are ever giving thanks to God for all of you, continually mentioning [you when engaged] in our prayers, 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

One verse later, Paul refers to being energized by faith. As Christians begin to pray with an unceasing desire, this is often accompanied with a sudden boost of energy. When you add and incorporate promises in the Bible to prayer, faith is strengthened. Prayer is an act of putting the needs of others before yourself as you pour out your heart to God. When prayer becomes a daily habit, a spirit of service is conceived.

Recalling unceasingly before our God and Father your work energized by faith and service motivated by love and unwavering hope in [the return of] our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), 1 Thessalonians 1:3.

In the first century, there was a belief that Jesus would return in their own lifetime. For those individuals who witnessed Jesus rise from the dead, there was a sense of urgency to seize each day on earth, Galatians 6:9-10. This is the motivation that the apostle Paul refers to in the passage above. If you want to make the most of your life on earth, engage yourself in prayer so that your faith is energized to keep on serving Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

What is God Waiting for You to Do?

I’ve never been at great student. Assignments that others finished in class took me twice as long to complete. Whether this was due to a lack of concentration or day dreaming, I never really developed a sense of urgency when it came to school. While several of my friends knew exactly what they wanted to do following graduation, I changed my major three times before my junior year of college. Taking the 5 year plan, I narrowed down my future to becoming a golf course architect or youth pastor.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

During a dual internship with golf during the day and ministry at night and on the weekends, God was waiting for me to make a decision. Since I was too blunt to become a successful architect, I followed my heart into the ministry. However, indecision caused me to bounce around from position to position: Summer Workcamp Coordinator, Youth Director, Boarding School Counselor and Teacher. Being curious isn’t bad, but at some point God wanted me to become stable, staying in one place long enough to see the fruits of my labor.

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you, Philippians 1:6.

Over the past 2 decades, I’ve stayed in two places for 18 years. While I’m no longer in the ministry, this blog has to suffice for now until I figure out what God wants me to do next. Of course freewill gives me the option to do whatever I want. Yet, I’ve learned that keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, brings me joy that surpasses all understanding. Therefore, as I linger for now, unsure of my next assignment, I pray that I have the faith to walk through this door when it opens.

by Jay Mankus

The Hour of Prayer

Whenever you read a long book, there will be lapses in concentration. Human nature may lead to dream dreaming, a lack of focus or result in a desires to speed up. When quantity replaces quality as a goal, I tend to rush through certain details and facts relevant to the story. Thus, words on a page quickly fade from my short term memory. Subsequently, there are portions of the Bible that appear new to me daily.

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.), Acts 3:1.

A recent discover is the hour of prayer. According to Luke, following the Day of Pentecost Jesus’ disciples began to pray for an hour in the middle of each day. Fellow believers met at a temple daily to lift up concerns, requests and worries to the Lord. Based upon Mark 15:25, 3 pm was the exact time Jesus gave up his spirit, succumbing to death. Perhaps, the hour of prayer was designed to honor Jesus, serving as a means to promote a sense of urgency for prayer while you are still alive.

But Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have; but what I do have I give to you: In the name (authority, power) of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—[begin now to] walk and go on walking!” Then he seized the man’s right hand with a firm grip and raised him up. And at once his feet and ankles became strong and steady, and with a leap he stood up and began to walk; and he went into the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God, Acts 3:6-8.

If you have ever been to a prayer group, an hour is a long time to pray. Most of the prayer times I have participated in involve a time for requests prior to praying. In same cases, you may only pray for 15-30 minutes as sharing concerns may exceed the scheduled time. Regardless of the specific techniques that churches may use, attending a prayer meeting or service heightens your spiritual senses. Prayer can become addictive, especially as eyewitnesses testify to prayers which have transformed their lives. This confidence inspires minds to think big, craving and hoping for miracles.

21 Jesus replied to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have faith [personal trust and confidence in Me] and do not doubt or allow yourself to be drawn in two directions, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen [if God wills it]. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive,” Matthew 21:21-22.

When I was 16, I ran two miles after twisting my ankle. My persistence to finish a race resulted in torn ligaments in my left ankle, causing my bone to twist 90 degrees in the wrong direction. After a visit to A.I Dupont Children’s Hospital, I was told by one doctor that I would never run again. Another said, I would be able to walk, but I would need to have a screw drilled into my ankle to keep this bone in place. These doctors did not consider the influence of prayer prior to my surgery. Christians, coaches and students prayed for healing. Like the lame man in the passage above, the power of prayer made the impossible possible. As others begin to emulate this first century practice, prayer can be a vehicle for miracles.

by Jay Mankus

Waiting for Good Things to Come

Waiting is contrary to human nature.  When you see something that you like or want, the concept of waiting seems pointless.  Yet, as I look back on my on life, there are certain things that I wasn’t ready to possess.  A lack of maturity, given something instead of earning it and forcing the issue are all contributing factors.  Perhaps, waiting is a tool God uses to prepare individuals for the future.

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him, Lamentations 3:25.

When you don’t have the financial means to afford a place to live, food to eat or resources like a vehicle, even atheists may offer up prayers for their current situation to improve.  If there is no one on earth to lean on, its only natural to look up the heavens and hope for better days.  The Bible encourages souls to seek God instead of seeking alternative routes or taking short cuts.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14

David compares waiting to a spiritual exercise like working out.  Waiting requires a gut check, seeing if you have what it takes to stick it out.  This process involves concentration, focus and a willingness to finish what you start.  Those who receive what they have been waiting for tend to appreciate what they now have.  Therefore, if you want to pursue a noble cause, trust God as you wait for good things to come.

by Jay Mankus

Losing Sight of God’s Glory

Attention, concentration and emphasis are words associated with focus.  These synonyms highlight the priority for those individuals who hone in on what’s important in life.  Depending upon your age, hobbies and interests, time will be allocated and invested in specific areas.  However, discipline, resolve and zeal are necessary traits to make your goals a reality.  Nonetheless, human nature has a subtle way of distracting good intentions.  The end result often leads to losing sight of God’s glory.

And David was dancing before the Lord with great enthusiasm, and David was wearing a linen ephod [a priest’s upper garment], 2 Samuel 6:14.

Prior to achieving fame by defeating the giant Philistine Goliath in battle, David was a skilled musician and shepherd.  The Old Testament does not reveal whether or not David combined these two abilities.  However, to stay sharp, I can see David practicing his harp at night, using a camp fire as a source for light.  As a former saxophone player, there is an adrenaline rush from playing moving songs.  Perhaps, this might explain the inspiration behind dancing, moving your body to the beat of music.  Beside performing for King Saul, David was also known to dance with enthusiasm, at one point dancing naked before the ark of the covenant.  Yet, five chapters later, seeing a beautiful woman bathing caused David to lose sight of God’s glory.

Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the LordPraise the Lord! (Hallelujah!) – Psalm 150:6

Romans 3:9-12 addresses mankind’s inability to avoid sin.  At some point, everyone screws up, falling prey to temporary pleasures.  As great as David’s act of adultery and murder detailed in 2 Samuel 11 may be, there is a way to regain your focus back toward glorifying God.  If you pray for a new heart, seeking to become a man or woman after God’s own heart, your spiritual vision will be renewed.  I have wasted years on earth trying to do what I want, to make a name for myself.  This selfish venture has blinded me from my real purpose for existing, Psalm 150:6.  Instead of waking up with the attitude what will God do for me today, there is a better alternative.  Start each day with a verse, a song and prayer to praise the Lord.  This is why you and I were born.  Therefore, don’t let the sun go down before practicing praise and worship of the great I Am.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Path to Excellence

As I examine successful athletes, authors and entrepreneurs, I find a common characteristic which exists.  Beyond a drive, focus and passion, those who rise above their competitors seize the moment daily.  Vision serves as a blue print to carry out and fulfill goals set by each individual.  Although delays and timing may be off, staying the course results in a path toward excellence.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:24.

When my two boys were much younger, each qualified for the Yes Athletics National Cross Country Championships for 3 consecutive years.  As an 8 year old, Daniel was the East Regional Champion.  However, when you compete against the best in the country, breaking the top 100 is an accomplishment.  After talking to other coaches, parents and runners, I realized my kids hadn’t put in the miles or training to have a chance to contend.

No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:27.

If you want to be considered elite, dedication, sacrifice and an unswerving concentration is a must.  Despite whatever talent you possess, the hungrier will creep up on anyone who isn’t willing to put in the time to improve.  Everyone will reach their limit at some point, but God will honor those who grind it out daily no matter how they are feeling.  I’m not sure what the future holds for my own aspirations, but I must fight with everything I have to keep my dreams alive by walking on the path to excellence.

by Jay Mankus

 

You’ve Got To Bring It!

Survival of the fittest was coined by British philosopher Hebert Spencer after reading On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.  In reality, this term is an alternative way of saying natural selection.  However, from a modern translation, in order to survive and rise above others to become the cream of the crop, you’ve got to bring it every day.  Whether you are an administrator, athlete, blue collar worker or a student with great expectations, you can’t take a class, day or play off.

As a former professional athlete and high school coach, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize if someone is dogging it.  Just take of peek to observe students walking down the hall to use the restroom.  Those walking slower than a senior citizen are stalling, wasting as much time as humanly possible.  On the other hand, the highly motivated are back in a flash, hoping they didn’t miss anything important.  If this pattern of complacency, laziness and minimal effort continues, these individuals will not succeed, put to shame and overshadowed by the overachievers in life.

The Bible was well ahead of its time, introducing a similar concept to the world by the end of the first century.  Jesus talked about striving for perfection during his sermon on the mount, encouraging the crowd to put their heart and soul into every aspect of life, even those people you despise or hate, Matthew 5:43-48.  As an avid sports fan of track and field, the apostle Paul addresses two sides to this topic.  From a mental approach, Paul focuses on the concentration necessary to acquire the proper attitude as you compete in life, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.  Then, from a moral stand point, Paul adds work ethic with a devotion for your creator in Colossians 3:17, 23.  When you put these three passages together, the message is quite clear, “you’ve got to bring it!”

by Jay Mankus

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